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[Susan notes: Steve Krashen offers research that supports school and public libraries, a solution to the reading problem politicians have never been willing to try.]

Submitted to Miami Herald but not published

To the editor

School district administrators think that third graders who score poorly on standardized tests need "more work" on their reading in the

form of "concentrated instruction" on phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension ("Grade-school reading camps to start Monday," July 5).

This is the wrong approach. Children at that age who don't read well need more access to interesting books, and a place to read them.

Nearly all third graders have already mastered their "skills," and all the research shows that phonics instruction is of very little value after the first grade. In addition, there is overwhelming research showing that the best way to increase vocabulary and reading comprehension is through extensive recreational reading.

It is firmly established that children of poverty do much worse on standardized reading tests than children from high income families. Susan B. Neuman's research shows that children of poverty have little access to books: In addition to having fewer books in the home, they go to schools with inferior school libraries, live in neighborhoods with inferior public libraries, and have far less access to bookstores. Before committing money and energy to summer drill camps, let's try the obvious: An increased investment in school and public libraries.

Stephen Krashen, Emeritus Professor, USC

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